(6 July 2020) The main debate in the ETUC Executive was about the response of the ETUC to the 2nd consultation of the European Commission on addressing the challenges for fair minimum wages. Trade unions insist on the role of collective bargaining and the need to promote and invest in organizing and recruitment. The European Union needs to be a space in which collective bargaining is promoted by the Commission and Member States. The abuses employers and some governments make of emergency laws are condemned. Views differ on what are the best instruments to foster a climate for bargaining. Legislation, recommendations or a combination of both ? Treaty change is also required to change the European Union from an environment that mainly benefits business interests to one that works for Europe’s people. The ECJ has so far not taken account of international conventions of the ILO (think of the EPSU court case) nor the European Social Charter of the Council of Europe and the verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights. The position will now go out for consultation to the affiliates. EPSU will consult the unions as well. These consultations are arguably the largest in the European Union as representatives of Europe’s 45 million workers take part in deciding the position.
The ETUC Executive Committee adopted short positions on the German Presidency, on EU-UK trade negotiations, Conference on the Future of Europe, Gender balance in company board rooms and on Vocational Education and Training. Resolutions on Industrial Policy and on Artificial Intelligence and Data Strategy for Europe were debated and adopted. Other issues on the agenda were the Youth Guarantee, the UnionMigrantNet, Information and Consultation rights, the Country Specific Recommendations as part of the European Semester and the Democracy Action Plan.
Many examples were given during the two days of transnational companies violating information and consultation rights and their European Works Council agreements. Companies announce sometimes brutal restructuring programmes and do not discuss these with the unions and workplace representatives. This goes against principles and legislation in the European Union. The Commission is asked to be much clearer that rights need to be respected and if needed to sanction companies. That is what is means to have a European Union that works for people.
The ETUC Executive Committee took place 2-3 July online. The EPSU Vice-Presidents Francoise Geng (for the first day due to negotiations over pay for health care workers in France) Thomas Kattnig and the EPSU General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary took part.